First in the morning, last in the evening: hydrate.
Margaret Howell Spring Summer 1992 campaign photographed by Koto Bolofo. Image courtesy of Margaret Howell.
Art print of Blue Nude II by Henri Matisse, 1952. The original paper cut work is much larger in size and really impressive yet this twelve pound print has its charm too. It makes me happy every time I see it.

This body

I have been interested in wellness since my early teens and studying the subject on my own. As a highly sensitive person, I have always been really aware of my body, of its sensations as well as its irritations and pains.

While I am truly carefree and enjoy my body when it functions well –  I am really really uncomfortable when something is not working well, or when I am exposed to an environment that lacks harmony, where there is too much hassle and noise around, for example.

Strong synthetic scents, synthetic materials, strong lights, dull air, noise, static electricity, stressful atmosphere, strict deadlines – just a couple of things that I have found best to expose myself in limited amounts.

I know some of you are nodding right now (the highly sensitive trait is found in 15 to 20 per cent of the population, not just humans but other animals and plants as well) and if you think you belong to this minority, or you live with someone who possibly does, I truly recommend reading Elaine Aron’s book about the subject.

What I write about wellbeing is mostly based on my own experiences and I hope you read it with an open mind yet trusting your own instincts. If something seems silly or irrelevant to you, ignore it. You know what is best for you.

Thanks to my mother, I learned about themes such as the Chinese medicine, ayurveda or homeopathy early on, and even though I was not particularly interested in medicine, I grew up thinking the Western world would benefit from introducing a bit more spirit and humanity to the common medical practice.

In the Eastern medical tradition, mind and body are considered as one. Healing is a holistic process.

This approach feels very natural to me since we are both physical and non-physical. When you look anything physical close enough, it is just vibration, energy.

Whether you are aware of this energy in you or not, and no matter how interested or uninterested you are on the subject, we are all, at least to a certain extent, familiar with the connection between our mind and our body.

When we feel well and clear mentally, our bodies find their balance easily. If we are chronically stressed, after a while, the stress finds its way to manifest in our bodies too.

Our relationship with our body is paramount in all areas of our lives because we have to carry our body everywhere we go. If we feel uneasy in our skin, the uneasiness hinders our success in everything we do.

A healthy body promotes a healthy mind, and a healthy mind promotes a healthy body. If we want to feel better, it is often irrelevant if we bring our focus on caring our body or our mind, because we cannot support one without having a positive effect on both.

Calm your mind and meditate, and you will see healthful results in your body. Similarly, a wholesome diet and lifestyle has a positive influence on the quality of our thoughts.

About that wholesome diet and lifestyle, though: it changes.

What is for your best today is not necessarily the same thing than it was six months ago. Seasons change, conditions change, the environment you live in changes, let alone the menstrual cycle that has its effect on us ladies (and yeah, sometimes the people we live with).

With so many moving parts, we can surely improve our health by studying and gathering more knowledge yet the most important thing is to remember that we are the experts of our own body.

By ignoring the messages we get – for example just keeping going and drinking more coffee if we are chronically tired, or taking pills to be able to go to work when we are sick – we sabotage the brilliant system.

However, often the things you fight against or try to ignore keep coming back to you stronger and stronger until you are kind of helpless. Feeling you have no power over the condition, you just give up.

Paradoxically, that is when the healing begins. The moment you get sick.

With all the information around – all the studies on healthy diets and exercise, studies on healthy foods and unhealthy foods, healthy habits and unhealthy habits – many of us aim for some kind of optimal state of bodily conditions. And if we do not look and feel like we are there, we think it is because our diet and exercise routine is wrong, or that we have not done a good enough job keeping up with that routine.

By doing things that we consider healthy, we are mentally climbing the stairs of wellbeing, aiming to the top.

Yet, this is not at all what I believe wellbeing is about. In small doses, almost anything can be good and healthy. And when you overdo it, anything and everything causes dis-ease in your body. (By the way, I love writing the word like that, I think it captures so well what disease is about.)

Ease, or dis-ease. Interesting words. Think about the difference. How each of the words feel.

Allowing, or controlling. Another pair of words so closely related to your natural wellbeing.

How often do you drink water stopping and feeling how good it tastes and how good it is to you? Thinking about all the cells of your body benefiting? Yeah, we do not do that so often.

And yet, how often do you eat something and feel afterwards that you’d be better off if you hadn’t? (Nothing, by the way, has so many calories as a bad conscience.)

Action and solution oriented beings as we are, we spend a lot of time fixing the problems in our body or preventing unwanted stuff to happen.

Instead of remembering and feeling that our bodies are naturally wise. That they do a wonderful job every day. Feeling how well everything is designed, and how well so many things work.

Your body is wise. However badly you treat it, it knows what it needs to find balance again.

Your body aims for balance all the time. That is why you have the ability to feel hunger and thirst, or sometimes crave for the oddest things, like, tomatoes. More tomatoes with everything.

That is why your leg starts to tingle when you sit on top of it and prevent blood for circulating freely. That is your body’s way of telling you to get up before your leg dies.

When you get a papercut on your finger, white blood cells are there immediately. They start protecting and mending the spot that has been cut open. When your brain needs more oxygen, you start yawning.

Instead of finding weaknesses, try appreciating the capacity of your body for a change. Focus on that every day and you will start noticing the life force flowing in you and through you in a magical way.

Because when you think about it, it really is quite amazing that clump of flesh you carry around with you, isn’t it?

You can sit on your leg until it’s numb and tingly, and stop many other things – be it wellbeing, money or positive beliefs about yourself – from flowing freely in your life, but when you get up and shake your leg, the blood starts circulating again, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

Things working well and flowing freely is the natural state of your being.

Are you sitting on your leg and blocking something? Possibly being so busy you have no time and energy to focus on calming down, eating well, enjoying fresh air, hugging and kissing your loved ones?

Negative self-talk is another usual suspect. Every cell of your body knows what you think, and there are few more effective ways to interfere with your health than to criticize yourself all the time.

Wellbeing comes from within. Instead of starting a new diet today, try coming up with a few small habits that feel good and empowering. Things that resonate with your inner wisdom. Things that bring clarity to your mind and put a smile on your face.

A couple of ideas.

Drink more water.
Walk in fresh air every day.
Move your body and take breaks from sitting.
Go upside down: put your legs up, or stand on your head or shoulders.
Principally walk to where you are going and take the stairs instead of an elevator.
Eat a home-cooked warm meal every day.
If you tend to eat mindlessly, before you begin eating, take three deep breaths to bring your focus to the present moment, and when tasting the food, really taste it.
Take time to calm down in the evening.
Improve your sleeping habits.
During the day, whenever you start to feel stressed, take ten deep breaths to anchor yourself. It calms your mind and body. (If you find it difficult to remember this, set a daily reminder on your cell phone. Two o’clock in the afternoon: time to breathe.)
Get inspired.
Be around things and people that ring your bells.
Give. Time, money, support, smiles, hugs, good ideas.
Laugh more.
Let go and forgive more.
Take yourself more lightly.
Find things to appreciate every day.
Focus on the good in others.
Focus on the good in you.